Voters to decide energy-aggregation issues

On ballot in 5 county communities

By Michael Seffrin

SIDNEY — Voters in five Shelby County communities will decide on programs that proponents say will save consumers money on their electric and/or natural gas bills.

On the Nov. 3 ballot in Sidney, Russia, Botkins and Fort Loramie there will be separate issues for community choice aggregation (CCA) for electric and natural gas. According to the ballot language, voters will be asked if the municipality shall “have the authority to aggregate the retail electric loads located in the (municipality) and for that purpose, enter into service agreements to facilitate for those loads the sale and purchase of electricity, such aggregation to occur automatically except where any person elects to opt out?” Another ballot issue will ask the same question for natural gas.

A fifth community, Lockington, has the aggregation issue on the ballot for electric only.

With aggregation, a municipality combines the retail electric and/or natural gas load of its residential and small commercial constituents and negotiates a rate with a competitive energy supplier to provide the customers’ energy supply. The residents benefit because the larger, aggregated load permits the municipality to negotiate a rate with the competitive supplier that is lower than the traditional utility’s current service rate for individual customers, Sidney city officials said in previous discussions.

Affordable Gas & Electric (AGE) is the consultant assisting Sidney and the three villages with establishing electric and natural gas aggregation programs.

According to information on AGE’s website, “You remain in complete control of your electricity and natural gas rates; CCA simply allows your community to request suppliers to bid on the collective energy needs of the entire community.

“If a great rate is offered, all eligible residents and small businesses will automatically be included in the program without charge, but will have the ability to opt-out at any time, and without penalty.”

There also are provisions for consumers who have already chosen a supplier. “If you have already selected a supplier on your own, you will not be automatically included in the community choice aggregation program,” AGE said. “At the conclusion of your current contract, you may join the CCA program at no cost and under the same terms and conditions as the other participants. You can still vote ‘yes’ to help your friends and neighbors, who have not yet chosen a supplier, save on their utility bills.”

AGE lists the following points about CCA:

• Free to participate in the Community Choice Aggregation program.

• Aggregated customers enjoy “bulk buying power” that individual residents cannot achieve.

• Nothing changes except the rate you pay for electricity and natural gas.

• You will continue to call DP&L and Vectren or Dominion for any service or billing questions.

• You are in complete control; you can opt-out of the CCA program at any time without penalty.

AGE said CCA “has consistently delivered the lowest rates, over the longest term, from the most qualified competitive suppliers. Recent aggregation rates have been substantially lower than DP&L’s 12-month historical default rate. A rate of 5.99 cents per kilowatt-hour was secured in 2014 for 36 months, representing over 25 percent in savings. This translates into more than $200 of potential savings per year for every participating household in the community.”
On ballot in 5 county communities

By Michael Seffrin

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.